Surfing History | What you need to know

The history of surfing

We are going to explain the origins of modern surfing briefly. It's super curious! The origins are said to be in Polynesia, dating back to the 18th century. However, it was discovered in 1771 when a crew of Captain Cook arrived in Tahiti and watched the natives ride the waves with boards made of wood. Still, the surfboard is said to have been invented in Hawaii as this is where people were surfing on surfboards.

This sport was forgotten for more than a century as it was considered a hazardous sport for primitive, wild people. It was around 1900 when it was resurrected in Hawaii and spread throughout the world, starting with California.
From the origins, we pass to the present. In 2021, surfing became an Olympic sport and is practised on beaches around the world. Another significant advance in surfing is the artificial wave pools, which allow constant practice with identical waves to improve manoeuvres and places where there is no need for the sea.

A lot of people like it and already practice it, but they don't know some really cool facts about surfing. So that you can stay on top of the history of surfing and increase your knowledge and passion for this incredible sport, we have listed 5 curiosities that will surprise you.

Surfing was a sport of royalty

Many people are fooled by the stereotype of surfers and believe that the origin of surfing was different. But the truth is that the sport was taken to Hawaii by an Indonesian king. Since then, surfing has become known as the sport of the gods!Also in Polynesia, only kings used to surf. Since royalty was a pure divine representation on earth, only they stood on the board, and the subjects remained lying down.

There's still more stuff from royalty! The expression Hang Loose was created by a king who surfed and waved to the audience who watched him. The problem is that this king only had two fingers on his hand: the thumb and the pinky!This sign ended up gaining strength in the 1950s, and the expression that named it means "to be calm" or quiet, everything to do with the culture of surfing. Hang Loose became popular even in the 1960s and 1970s.

Wooden boards

The boards we know today, with all the paraffin and other accessories, are very recent. In the beginning, they were made of solid wood. Yes, wood! They weighed more than 40 kilos and were three meters long. A sign that the first surfers needed to be very skilled, right?

Today the boards have several formats that vary according to the sport modalities or the waves. They are very light, can weigh less than three kilos, and are usually made of fiberglass and polyurethane.

When surfing became popular?

Surfing was a very unknown sport for a long time, and it was only at the 1912 Olympics that it started to become popular, thanks to Duke Paoa Kahanamoku.

This man was a descendant of the Hawaiian royal family and won the gold medal at the 5th edition of the Olympic Games in Sweden. At 22, he broke the 100 meter freestyle record and took advantage of the interviews he could talk about surfing.

Do you know the history of surfing and where it all started? The sport has been practiced for years and has been gaining more and more strength. See some curious facts and the most striking names of this scenario.

Curious facts of the history of surfing

We have separated some facts from the history of surfing for you. Check out:

  • The first registration of the sport occurred in 1778, in Hawaii. The navigator James Cook photographed natives surfing on boards
  • The planks were made of solid wood and weighed more than 40 kilos. They were large, about three meters long;
  • In the past, each surfer made his own board out of wooden logs. They believed that the moment was magical, when each one transmitted their positive energies to the equipment;
  • Surfing only started to become popular in the mid-1912s, with the Hawaiian Duke Paoa Kahanamoku. He participated in the Olympic Games in Sweden and broke the 100 meter freestyle record. Taking advantage of the popularity, he started talking about surfing and spreading the sport;
  • the first female surfer is considered to be Isabel Letham, in 1915, influenced by Duke;
  • The first surfing championships started to take place in 1974, the year in which the sport became more and more popular.